Monday, April 28, 2008

And a warm welcome to those visiting from worship central.....


My wonderful widget that shows traffic on the blog is telling me that some people are dropping by because I posted on Al Gordon's blog at worship central.

I was going to post more reflections on Saturday've got to go to Tesco for shopping and then tidy up my house (mainly do millions of washings) so the exciting world of theology will have to await the necessity of domestic drudgery. Nigella I ain't, but no less important to me is to maintain warmth and organisation (a bit of cleanliness too doesn't go wrong, I feel) in my home as well as with those I teach/train/encourage outside of it.

So please *do* come back after today and in the meantime - read my posts here (on children and worship) and here (on children and theology) cos you can't go deeper in one unless you know what you believe about the other.
Check out particularly April 18th and March 30th 2007 in children and theology section.

Hope this helps any readers mull it over. You've got to come to your own conclusions but please permit me to say that I see very exciting developments all around the UK and suspect that a vast wave is coming that will see children brought back more into the centre instead of being at the fringe (acknowledged but restrained), or separate (religious childcare), or "add ons (tolerated)"; little adults in miniature. I don't necessarily mean children preaching, prophesying and all of that - which I am not against! - but in my gut I sense that in the UK children will show us more of what God is like; that there will be a renewal of simplicity, absolute honesty, heartfelt and passionate expectation and total trust in one who is greater.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Worship Central

I've had a great day at Worship Central but I am so so tired now.

I will blog more about this at a later point.

Suffice to say - Mike Lloyd - you rock! Loving that trinitarian stuff.
Pete Greig - loved what he said. In my mind I have been adapting the teaching to suit the 8s to 11s - 'twas a great topic for children. At its heart it is so simple that it is easy for children to grasp. Now, that's not surprising, given Jesus words about children!

People I chatted to today - heaven! Friends old and new everywhere.

Love the emphasis on meeting with God with a strong reminder that this should result in mercy and justice flowing from our worship of God to the world "out there" - this is a particular passion of Tim Hughes. Also am very impressed with the desire to bring good theology into the whole area of worshipping - leading, doing, being!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

God's Self-Revealing

I'm in my final Old Testament class now and I'm not finding it all that easy. We spent some time today thinking about the development of thought in OT studies. Didn't really get me excited. Can't really see how the journey to decide that we need to see "the big picture" was missed for centuries. Be still my beating heart! Sorry, theologians! I'm sure it's a very exciting topic but my mind was wandering to other things namely the experimental 2 hour unseen exam. We're the lab rats for University of Aberdeen. :::mutter mutter:::: I feel strongly about exams because I mark them for 5th year pupils. Some specimen questions help prepare the way.

The lecturer is a Hebrew scholar - an outstanding guy, in his 38th year of teaching. He speaks about 7 languages, so I'm told. There have been lots of references to translation problems and to Hebrew grammar and I'm Not Getting It. I did very well previous years' OT studies but I'm suspecting that will not be the case with this one.

However, on another point, I had a brilliant time with my OT passage for today. At 8.30am, alone in my car, I experienced the presence of God as "the Scriptures opened up before me".. dear Holy Spirit, I love that illumination thing you do - why do I always laugh or cry? I can't remain impassioned. It's just so.......REAL...that you speak/direct/chastise/encourage....or whatever we need....

These words speak to me of a tender, intimate, loving Father who simultaneously is mighty, awesome, to be feared. I really love him and I just can't ever forget his faithfulness to me from childhood to today.

Exodus 33
Then the LORD said to Moses, "Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way."

When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. For the LORD had said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites, 'You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.' " So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend....Moses said to the LORD, "You have been telling me, 'Lead these people,' but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, 'I know you by name and you have found favour with me.' If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people."
The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?"
And the LORD said to Moses, "I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name."

Then Moses said, "Now show me your glory."

How would you apply those last five words to your context?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Looking forward to........

Not one but two Edwyns have been significant in my formative years; one whom I've seen much more of than the other! (and with a slightly different spelling)

I am very much looking forward to Edwyn Collin's gig tonight.

Edwyn suffered a devestating cerebral haemorrhage in 2005 and had made steady progress in rehabilitation and recovery. He has THE most distinctive voice; probably best known to younger readers for the song "A Girl Like You" (which, bizarrely, was frequently played as background music to conversational scenes in Neighbours in the late 90s. The Grundy Corporation must have had some kind of deal with Edwyn!)

Making music and song writing are gifts given by God; of that I am sure!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The week begins

Monday morning. Up really early because a Strange Woman is driving Mr HIWWC to work and she's picking him up a whole 45 mins before he would otherwise leave the house. So we're all up extra early! ::::grumble::::: I'm not a great morning person. It feels as if Psalms were written for me, I sooooo have to engage with God and not ease dreamily from one ethereal state of the manifest presence of God (Sunday and God time) to the next morning of inner calm, knowing He is with me always. I loved reading about brother Lawrence's practising the presence of God but me flipping pancakes in the kitchen in the morning revelling in the closeness of God, prior to 11am and two cups of tea....miraculous, that would be.....
And for some reason, even though it was 2 years ago I read the Brother Lawrence book, the frying pan incident remains with me....was it eggs or pancakes?

Anyway, just realised that I forgot to tell you all that Mr HIWWC has his arm in plaster. A football hit him the night before we left for Spring Harvest. You couldn't make this stuff up. My ex-professional rugby-playing friend said incredulously, three times last week: "a ball hit him...? a BALL hit him....? A BALL HIT HIM....?" Don't think he's even broken bones when a 14 stone man has hit him, let alone a spherical object filled with.............air.

I have a number of major things to get through this week, culminating in some ridiculously silly scheduling on Sunday - kinda my fault entirely except that I didn't plan it that way. I'm at Worship Central all day Saturday, with houseguests from the Highlands (known to us) and London (unknown to us) then on Sunday I am supposed to be overseeing the usual stuff which finishes around 12.30, then speaking at a parenting forum in a nearby Church of Scotland, 1 till 2.30, then leading an all age cell group 4 till 6pm where I will be observed on my pastoral interactions/teaching input for my final year placement. Help. A theology lecturer to cell group. I've given up on any thoughts of a "good impression". Ah well, we are 8 adults and 21 children. We're messy. Unpredictable. Risky. Church!!!!

The great thing about Sunday is that my whole family are part of all of the activities I describe and I am not tearing around leaving my children at home without me. They serve in the all age cell group, welcoming other children, talking with adults, sharing toys, helping other folks to food - as they had done at teatime alpha - I believe children are never to young to learn to help and serve others. I'm not saying my kids are perfect - no-one's are! - but they do seem to love being used by God as part of a family and I DO "big that up" in them.

When I look around my church family, I can see children and teenagers in church whose parents have modelled that expectation. My colleagues' children, for example, are outstanding young people. I love talking with them and would dearly love to spend more time with them. They've been intentionally taught how to serve and bless other people. They, and others like them in the fellowship, really *do* stand out from the crowd. It's counter-culture and if you spend any time in schools you will realise that many children/teenagers today expect others (or labour saving devices) to do things for them.

Today's ex-teacher rant over.....!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Wedding Bells

It's been a great week. I had two days off and combined returning to my studies with diving into the office under the radar a few times to do some filing and to prepare for Sunday morning. Plus its been sunny which means the kids have returned to the garden for hours at a time! Well worth the extra washing and the bug collection jars.

Last night was very strange. We were "sans enfants" and didn't go out; got lots of things done in the house and I even managed to wander round a shopping mall between about 4 and 6pm. What a change! The children are at grandma's as we are going to a wedding today.

Time to read AND enjoy a leisurely breakfast, to wash one's hair without someone knocking on the bathroom door shouting "I NEED IN!", no need for diversional activities while mum and dad get ready.

It's kind of quiet. And I'm enjoying it!
(but I will be glad when they return tomorrow)

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I'm reading....

I'm terrible at updating the "What I'm Reading" sidebar of the blog and it's actually a question I hate being asked because I find it hard to answer without sounding pretentious. I know what I'm like! I always want to answer with the sharp retort "The Beano", which would be lying. so I usually start off with the truth "Heat magazine". I don't buy it...I am often given it (she adds, somewhat hastily!)

I do read books, more so that my children are getting older and I head towards five years in a pastoral role; I feel I *do* have a little more time. I am hitting a month of MAJOR reading as I have
(a) become interested in a topic I haven't got time for right now (heaven) yet can't put the theology of heaven book down and its a weighty one and
b) I have two papers to write; one reflecting on the pilot all age cell groups I set up almost 4 months ago and one on a pastoral topic related to these cell groups. I'm quite worried about this second one.

I'm also one who dips in and out of books and reads parts so there are always several on the go (such as Ivy Beckwith and George Barna); I've read them all the way through but keep going back to bits so they stay by my bed.

I've chosen here to highlight a few of the current pile of about 10 books - any positive comments or constructive criticisms from readers would be most welcome. I bet no-one's read the first one as I had to get it imported!

1. Peppermint-Filled Pinatas: Breaking Through Tolerance and Embracing Love. Here's the review that made me buy it:
"This is a new book by Eric Bryant, the executive pastor at Mosiac Church in Los Angeles. I sat down to read a few chapters....I expected to read just a few chapters to wind down. However, I found myself two-thirds of through the book in single sitting.

Peppermint-filled Pinatas is not a children’s ministry book. However, Bryant’s book is worth your time. Eric has written a manifesto for anyone wishing to lead the people in their church out of the Evangelical subculture and into the lives of their neighbors.

The title of the book comes from the story of his attempting to host a child’s party ”on the cheap.” Eric wanted to fill a pinata with a bag of bulk peppermints until his more child-savvy wife overruled him. A pinata filled with bad candy is Eric’s metaphor on how we relate to the unchurched. We expect them to work their way through out subculture, jargon, rules, and expectations…. only to be paid off with unsatistying churchianity.

Eric offers an alternative: We can love our neighbors enough to get to know them. Eric covers many of the rough-in-tumble issues that comes with love: Confronting racism and stereotypes; bumping up against systems of morality that run counter to Christianity (and genuinely loving the people who hold them; and loving people of other religions)" [review by Larry Shallenberger on Children's Ministry and Culture blog]

2. The Child in Christian Thought edited by Marcia Bunge. I have two copies of this now! Susan, I will be returning your copy to you! Felt this a worthwhile book to buy personally as historical understanding of children often informs culture today. I keep needing to check back as I can't remember whose view was what (reformation theologians for example. Kept changing their minds!!)

3. The Church Beyond the Congregation: the Strategic Role of the Church in the Postmodern Era by James Thwaites - this book looks at the Hebrew worldview and applies its understanding of creation to arrive at a new vision of church in a postmodern era. Really fascinating.

4. Loving the Lost: The Principles and Practice of Cell Church by Laurence Singlehurst. Bet lots of my readers have used this. What do you think? Reading bits for my placement.

5. Redefining Children's Ministry in the 21st Century; A Call for Radical Change by Becky Fischer. Read this if you dare! Not for the faint hearted! Are you prepared to be (possibly)upset and challenged by this book? Readers will definitely be stirred up in some way. This was written as a reponse to Barna's powerful (and respected) research which showed that 70% of young teens in the USA leave church because "we have underestimated their spiritual potential". I agree and I'm liking this book because I'm currently working with a large group of kids using a supernatural fruit, gifts, character and calling curriculum.

However, one thing which is common to many US books on children's ministry that I have read. which I DON'T LIKE is that kids are either OUT or IN the kingdom; there appears to be little recognition of the strong biblical case for children beginning in the kingdom; demonstrating a love for Jesus that he welcomed and blessed and honoured publicly. I could be prejudging the author on this one -I am going to see her in Leeds in May so I will probably ask her myself. Will post what happens!

I've got about 3 more cell church books but I'm not going to list them, I've just got to get on with them!

So, readers, please leave any comments at all on any of the above books (or just say hello!)
Look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Still Small Voices

For those who have been asking (reminding!) me - Still Small Voices blog will be back v soon - it's fairly high up on my "to do" list but other pastoral issues keep popping up........have some days off next week so hoping to get all the old material from Typepad transferred over then....

Meantime, I am catching up with sleep hours lost from Spring Harvest. 6am rises and me don't go!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Had a wonderful late night experience in God's presence with one of the other team members at what was kind of billed as a showcase concert type thing at SH with a worship leader called Andrew Booth; an accomplished pianist and flautist; a composer and church team leader (wow, how can one person be so talented!)

It was actually a soaking time and while there was lots of applause for the man's musical ability, that was kind of incidental to me as I got lost in thoughts of hope and heaven. Oh, sweet presence!

We really wanted to lie down but realised we would be gaffa-taped to the floor by stewards as SH is very careful about trip hazards.....!

This was so needed in the midst of team activities.
Thanks Father for that gift! Came just at the right time.

Monday, April 07, 2008


Quick blog post from the team lounge at Spring Harvest. I'm very excited (again) (for a change). My erstwhile colleague Brodie knows I struggled with eschatology 2 years ago and now I have heard NT Wright lecture on new creation and I'm going back for more tonight. It all makes so much sense now.

I'm working mornings and some afternoons so I am usually too tired to go to out at night but I'm having a ball with the other team members and with the subject matter of eschatology.

Never thought I'd say that.
I even bought a book on the theology of heaven and in the midst of all the activity here I am two chapters in already........

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Long Drive South

I've taken a break from my favourite activity - ironing - to blog some thoughts as I prepare to head south tomorrow afternoon to the bracing Lincolnshire coast for Spring Harvest. I'm working with Powerpack again. Regular readers will know I love them dearly! Blogged about them on at least two occasions and on this same week last year.

I've got a list as long as my arm to get through tomorrow, from finding materials for messy up-front games, to purchasing the necessary lorryload of fruit for the week ahead (Butlins food is..........plentiful........and vitamin-deficient), making some last minute pastoral phone calls, attending the Preschool end of term show, cleaning out the fish, remembering everything we need (EARPLUGS!) for chalet life and......oh!....packing....for four.

Today I worked till 8.30am till 7pm getting everything finished up for going away; communicating with all parties involved in the all age slots of the services for the next two weeks, ensuring everyone in the Easter cover teams knew where they were going and what they were doing, filling in some paperwork for BMS that I should have done last week; finally getting my summer holiday club team recruitment letters out - bless my admin worker today; she was fab!, all age cell admin and prep for the next two meetings - yup, being away is hard work prior to the event but wonderful once you're at your destination; knowing a good bunch of volunteers are not just keeping things ticking over but firing ahead without you :-)

I was teaching at Equip on Monday, our church's two-days-a-week discipleship programme and that which I taught, based on Lausanne occasional paper 47 (evangelism amongst children and families) the contents of which I do know pretty well, has really stirred something up in me this week. I am looking forward to a week away to think about this some more.

LOADS has been spilling around my brain this past month - on this blog you'll have heard my incessant references to George Barna (hey, don't knock large scale research and reflective conclusions), coupled with what I am seeing with my own eyes in children who love, love, love God and want him so much. I've been speaking to groups again recently about how we need to celebrate lifelong committment and love for Jesus from the youngest child onwards and upwards through the age brackets instead of expecting and talking of a period of rebellion away from God. I'm suggesting that we need to get rid of that attitude and expectation of rebellion, spoken or unspoken, and believe, expect and work towards children not only knowing God but walking close to him. And having amazing rallies and evangelistic events where we clap and cheer the thirty-something guest who testifies of a life of..........being close to God and serving him always and never doing drugs or alcohol and the like. How much better is it to avoid the pain and hurt? Is that not worth celebrating? With all my heart that's what I long for and pray for over my own two kids, often when they are asleep.

I'm feeling a real passion about this which may offend. Can't say sorry for being passionate about this (well, I would if I saw you face to face.....maybe!) but yet again (felt some prophetic frustration in this post I fear).... I'm feeling its time for the tide to turn, for us to REALLY take up the challenge of reaching and nurturing children in the things of God - if you win a young person to Christ, they are more likely to follow him all the days of their life, compared to someone who comes to faith as an adult (ref:Lausanne). Dunno about you, but I want disciples rather than numbers. I love kids and their families SO MUCH but I also love the LOCAL CHURCH heaps too and I want them to be an integral part of that. Sometimes I want that so much that it hurts. It pains me to think of children and young people shut away in separate boxes. This "botherment" MUST HAVE been planted there by God himself because if you didn't know this before - I used to not like children - at all - before God wrought a miracle in my life. I didn't even want to be around under 12s. I heard his audible, loud voice. If you want to know what he said you'll have to ask me in person one day!

I may blog briefly from the internet cafe onsite. Have a good week readers!
Perhaps post in the comments section what you will be doing on Monday morning at 11am..... Come on you lurkers - you can go anonymous and tell us what you will be up to on Monday at 11!

me - in Blue 1 amongst another 400 children no doubt singing, shouting, dancing praying or talking with them.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008